Part I: The Warm Up
Surrounded by Natural Inspiration
Opal Creek Magic
Tell us a little bit about yourself as an individual: Where are you from? How do you feel your upbringing has shaped you into the person you are today?
Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, I have been surrounded by classic Pacific Northwest beauty since day one. I went to the Portland Waldorf School from preschool through 8th grade. The alternative learning methods that Waldorf instituted focused heavily on the arts and connecting with nature. This fired up my passion for creating at a young age. I can vividly remember experimenting with liquid watercolors in Kindergarten class. By high school, my passion for art and outdoor adventuring aligned with making the competitive climbing team at The Circuit Bouldering Gym. This set the stage for what came next.
What gets you stoked in life?
Rocks! (especially solid granite). Interesting light. Trader Joe’s Scandinavian Swimmers. Hours spent on a trail. Mist blasting me in the face at a waterfall. Sharing jokes and scenery with fellow
How do the friends and people you surround yourself with influence you in your life’s pursuits?
My parents could not be more supportive. And once I convinced my dad that he needed a second career as an unpaid part-time sherpa, I was set. Same with my brother Noah and extended family. My grandparents, my cousins…they’re my greatest fans. Climbing friends like Jedi and Ethan always motivate me to train hard and get pumped for our next expedition. Thanks guys!
Can you trace your passion for the outdoors back to one particular moment or trip? If not, how did your passion come to be?
It all started with Opal Creek, the pristine Oregon gem I've visited with my family since I was literally still in the womb. It is a magical place. In fact, my first major art award, the Western Governor’s Award, was for a pen and ink piece I did of a historic cabin at Jawbone Flats in Opal Creek. When I won, I met personally with Oregon Governor Kate Brown to talk about environmental conservation for places like Opal Creek and the importance of arts in the schools.
Part II: The Art of Skill, Passion, and Youth
Caleb’s Three Goals
Nature by Watercolor
British Columbia, Utah, Alaska, the Pacific Northwest… the list keeps going! At only 17 you’ve been to some places most people only dream of. What lights the fire under you to constantly discover and challenge yourself in the outdoors?
I’ve been really lucky. For these last two years, I’ve been able to do a combination of online classes and an early college program that gives me the flexibility to work kids' climbing camps, travel and still churn out schoolwork. Having the time to explore both well loved and remote areas around the Northwest and beyond makes it all worthwhile.
On the note of being young, you’re off to a great start in this space, and you’ve got a lot of time ahead of you. What are some of your goals and aspirations as you look forward?
Make enough $ through my photography and art to travel, climb, drink kombucha and live in a van.
(Way more popular with the parents)
Head to the OSU Cascades campus in Bend with my early college credits to pursue a degree in either art/design or outdoor leadership, and work at the new Circuit gym they’re building there to stay in shape and pay the bills.
Use my work in positive ways to promote environmental conservation and awareness.
How did you get exposed to photography? Any particular role models that influenced you along the way?
I got exposed to photography through Instagram. After creating an account I soon discovered amazing photographers like Chris Burkard. I hadn’t thought much about photography until this point and it blew me away. This inspiration paired with my love for the outdoors motivated me to start capturing the moments and experiences I live for.
How do you feel your style and eye with a lens has changed as you’ve exposed yourself to so many new places and experiences?
While I am still new to photography and my style is evolving, I have discovered a passion for communicating scale in photos. Spending so much time in vast landscapes with towering peaks has influenced me to show how dwarfed we are by nature in my work. I accomplish this by including a human subject amidst an immense backdrop.
Switching it up, you’re also an accomplished climber, often winning contests within the Portland area. Can you remember the moment you got bit by the “climbing bug?” Do you have any goals or routes you’re itching to tackle in the coming months and year?
It all started with trees. As a young kid, I was obsessed with tree houses and climbing trees. When I first discovered climbing in the gym, I soon realized that climbing rocks (both big and small) was even better!
I have so many climbs, projects, and trips on my bucket list right now, but one trip I am particularly excited for is Peru. I’m headed down to the Andes this summer with Portland’s Post 58 youth mountaineering organization where I hope to expand my photography portfolio and have fun in the high alpine. I could not be more stoked!!
Along with photography, your beautiful watercolors and sketches really show your inspiration from the outdoors. How has art influenced who you are on a day to day basis?
I think the outdoors is the art. If you spend enough time out there, it shapes you into who you are, instead of the other way around. Through art and photography, we just do our best to try to capture how it feels and hope that it gives someone else a little taste of what’s out there.
If you could take your art in any direction without fear of failure or rejection, where would it lead? What new things would you try?
Have you ever seen paintings by Renan Ozturk? I love his concept of bringing a massive canvas on a climbing expedition and then creating a painting on the spot. So far all of my paintings have been completed away from the action using photographs and memories for inspiration. I think drawing inspiration directly from within nature, even more than just visually, would enhance the artistic experience of creating a work of art.
Where can we find you when you’re not on the side of a mountain or dangling from crimps?
When I’m not out naturing, I’m often editing photos on the living room couch, working the pen and brush on the next art proj’, or getting sendy with my second family at the climbing gym.
Part III: Finale Fire Round
Go Macro Addiction
Clean Granite Dreams
Solitude in nature
Ocean or mountains?
Hunter or gatherer?
Favorite camp meal?
When I’m out on a climb or multi-day adventure I rely heavily on peanut butter Go Macro Bars. I’m kinda addicted.
If you could get on a plane with a backpack and camera and fly anywhere right now where would you head?
I’d head to Baffin Island in Canada. Endless walls of clean granite waiting to be climbed!
What is your favorite camera kit to shoot with?
The Sony A7rii with the 16-35mm f2.8. Can’t get enough of that wide angle!
Where is Your Goodland? Why?
My Goodland is anywhere I can find the solitude of nature. The powerful feeling of being alone and small in a big wilderness is what brings me back again and again.
Any final thoughts or things about yourself you’d like to share with The Goodland?!
Huge thanks to The Goodland for giving me the opportunity to share a little about myself! Such a rad platform you guys have created.
Find more of Caleb’s work?
Dive deep into Caleb’s impressive gallery of photography, art, and adventure on Instagram: @caleb.jacobson